A Crumbling Heritage

A Crumbling Heritage

Datur Meher Road – Pune Cantonment’s colonial heritage street

As rest of Pune evolved this street seems to be frozen in time. It is a street that I pass through almost on a daily basis and it still has a mix of European and Indian architecture largely as it was in the 1910’s and 1920’s, but now it seems to be sagging and ageing quite rapidly. This has led me to document it through my sketches.

Dastur Meher road developed as a trader support system to the British military settled in the Cantonment area.


The buildings on this street abut each other and the rooftops of these 2 or 3 storied houses have an unbroken chain of tiled roofing desperately needing repair are closely packed together.


This street was like a last outpost to Camp with Main Street and the cantonment on one side was and on the other side the congested old city of Pune. There are stories of how people had to pay more to the rickshawallahs just to cross the city limits to the cantonment.

The cantonment laws of that time allowed business premises and shops on the ground floor of the street and living quarters above for the Indian traders. Shops are still inspected like in the British era to maintain cleanliness. Sunnydale’s is a famous store on this street


Despite strict Cantonment building rules during the British era, Indians were allowed to follow their inclination as far as plan, design or facades were concerned leading to a diverse mix of architecture styles.The ground floor apartment has seen many generations of the same family as they have been residing here for the past 70 years. This building wears its ethnicity clearly during Christmas.


A weak glow through the attic windows high up near the ceiling kept the homes cool in the hottest of Pune summers. Some buildings had high plinths to help reduce humidity and the influence of vapours from the ground. Doors and windows were placed opposite each other to help ventilation. The beautiful coloured glass in the windows and the timber frames continue to be a testament to British architectural influences.

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